England are facing a defensive crisis ahead of their World Cup trip to Belarus with Chelsea duo John Terry and Ashley Cole ruled out through injury.
Terry's absence after once again failing to take part in training due to a back problem had largely been expected.
The Chelsea captain missed Saturday's win over Kazakhstan with the injury and although he was able to do some running with physio Gary Lewin yesterday, he was not able to take the necessary step forward and coach Fabio Capello quickly decided the 28-year-old could not make the trip to Minsk.
However, the loss of Cole is a grievous blow.
While there has been plenty of comment about the full-back since the weekend win, none of it related to the hamstring injury that will keep him out on Wednesday.
Although Cole was at fault for Kazakhstan's goal, he has a largely unblemished record at international level and while likely replacement Wayne Bridge is a competent enough performer, clearly successive Chelsea managers, including Jose Mourinho and Luis Felipe Scolari, believe the former Southampton man is very much second best.
Bridge will not need reminding his last competitive appearance for England was the seismic 3-2 home defeat to Croatia last November that cost the Three Lions their place at Euro 2008 and Steve McClaren his job.
"It's disappointing to lose two very experienced players in John Terry and Ashley Cole for the game in Belarus," said Capello.
"Unfortunately they have no chance of playing, so it is best they return to Chelsea."
Rio Ferdinand will keep the captain's armband, with Matthew Upson almost certain to retain his place despite a hesitant performance as Terry's replacement at Wembley.Reuse content